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PG-13
| | 1 hr 39 min | Documentary, Art House & International

Project Nim is a British documentary that was based upon the book by Elizabeth Hess. Directed by James Marsh, the film was produced by Prudence Arnd and features Bob Angelini, Bern Cohen and Renne Falitz. The story follows the life of Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who has been raised similarly to a human baby. After experiencing a number of environments with humans, Nim appears to become a more admirable mammal than many humans.

Nim was born in Oklahoma in captivity. A few days later, he was taken from his mother by Columbia professor, Herbert Terrace. His first foster mother was student Stephanie LaFarge during the 1970s. During that time, she breast fed the chimp, let him smoke pot and indulge in a beer occasionally.

In early years, Nim was affectionate and bright, realizing quickly what grew to a vocabulary including 125 signs. He also progressed at potty training. Laura Ann Petitto and hippie Bob Ingersoll handle him during his adolescence and are concerned about his developing aggression.

The researchers understand that there will come a time when Nim can no longer be kept safely as a pet. They are programmed to develop self protective and anger mechanisms. Chimpanzees are five times stronger than humans of similar size, so there is a danger of being overtaken.

As the researcher's suspect will happen, ultimately Nim winds up biting the cheek of a researcher severely. He signs that he is sorry, but it is not clear whether he really is or just knows that is the right word to say.

In later life, Nim becomes melancholy. After being sent into the realm of medical research, he now must still live in a small cage. He has lived in what the researchers believed were a confusing number of different environments. Finally, all of his early accomplishments as to language are no longer praised or necessary. The movie finally suggests that the project did little benefit for humans - and Nim not at all.

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Stars
Garry Harris, Stephanie Lafarge, Jenny Lee Wright, Laura Ann Petitto, Joyce Butler
Director
James Marsh
Language
English
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